As the worldwide Covid-19 death toll passed 5m, the same world leaders who failed to stop this preventable, but lethal, viral illness from sweeping across whole populations, met in Glasgow to decide how they are going to fail to prevent further climate change from devastating humanity.
By now, nobody needs to hear the 95 year-old naturalist David Attenborough make stirring speeches to be convinced that planet earth is in big trouble. The wildfires, floods, hurricanes, droughts - and the threat that islands in the Caribbean, Indian and Pacific oceans might soon disappear under water - all these are ascribed to the warming up of the planet due to high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even former climate change deniers like Boris Johnson have had to admit that this is indisputable.
It has already led to the displacement of millions of people across the world: 5m displaced due to climate-related catastrophes in India, 4m in China and nearly 1m in a rich country like the USA! And now in Madagascar, people are starving to death, due to drought.
Politicians have had 26 previous occasions to come up with real solutions. The first COP was in 1995. But since then things have only got worse!
They need to look in the mirror
So what do they say today? In fact they used the occasion to blame others for their inaction. The tone was set by US leader Joe Biden (who fell asleep during the proceedings - as did Boris Johnson - but at least Biden kept his mask on).
He began by condemning the Chinese president, Xi Jinping for not attending - it was an “outrage”, since China is the “world’s worst climate offender”. Except it depends on how you interpret facts. Per capita, China produces less CO2 than the US, while doing much of the world’s dirty production, which it has only done for the past 4 decades, unlike Britain or the US, which have been making industrial smoke for over 200 years...
Liz Truss, Britain’s reactionary and xenophobic foreign Secretary was delighted to join in the China-bashing, even if this means refusing China’s help to build new nuclear power stations - the best mitigation against using fossil fuels into the future!
So yet again, for the 26th time, world leaders are committing in words to stop adding fuel to the global fire... but only in 9 year’s time, in 19 year’s time or even in 50 year’s time - while nothing is to be done immediately, despite the already irreversible consequences of climate change. Sea levels have already risen, lakes have already dried up and many insects, plants and animals are already extinct.
In Britain, we’re told to replace our gas boilers and drive (very costly!) electric cars, because “every little bit helps”. But no, it’s a drop in the ocean. More than 50% of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, ozone) produced worldwide come from industry, 25% from large-scale agriculture and felling trees and 15% from transport - road, air and sea. And as everyone found out 4 weeks ago, large scale transport in Britain relies on CO2-emitting, petrol and diesel-guzzling heavy-duty trucks instead of green railways. And whose fault is that?
The bits which help
It is not enough to condemn the politicians for their “blah-blah-blah” and their commitments without consequences. Of course they don’t act: they represent the interests their profiteering corporate friends from the oil, gas, mining, chemicals, shipping and trucking, etc... industries.
Neither is it enough to call for “system change” without any idea of how to achieve it. There could be a thousand Greta Thunbergs and millions of Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators in the streets to raise the issue. But what real muscle do they have? In 2019, Johnson even organised a People’s Convention on climate change at the behest of XR!
No, if the COP measures won’t make somebody lots of money - in this “capitalism is good” Johnsonian world - then the bosses and their governments simply won’t take them. Capitalism is by definition, based on short-term greed. Quick bucks are what make this world go round - and that is what has to be changed.
It’s true that “communism” is a dirty word today, misused to describe a capitalist China or the former totalitarian USSR and its satellites. But putting a world-wide communist system in place, based on planned production for need, not profit - this is the only alternative, if humanity is to survive for another 50-100 years, let alone for millennia.
And there’s only one force which does have the muscle as well as the vested interest to achieve this: the exploited working classes of this world; the vast majority of the world’s population. They weren’t part of COP26. But some of our class were on strike outside of it. In fact the stand taken by Glasgow’s refuse workers is one of the “every little bits” which could help!